Live Review: FYF Fest – Day Two

I’ve been to 2 previous FYF, 2009 and 2010. I remember the first FYF because I was given a flyer for it out side a Part Time Punk Event at the Echo Plex in 2004. As pointed out in the first day’s report the meaner elements of the festival have been addressed: creating a cleaner and more orderly environment than I’ve experienced before. I took the Gold Line and found it an easy access to the L. A. Historic State Park. My entrance was effortless compared to the previous craziness. I Walked up to a side gate to ask for specifics on getting in. Instead of a long dialog and daunting instructions I was immediately ushered in. I was surprised, shocked and pleased!

My entry led to the Hills Street stage where I saw it was in mid set up. So I headed north. Somewhere past the the main stage I ran into an old friend, Aaron Lariviere, who’s now manning the post of editor-in-chief at Invisible Oranges and his gal pal Rachel. We all decided to promenade south to check out a mutual interest, Father John Misty. We arrived a little after the third song. Father John Misty felt at times like Grizzly Bear but with a more bluesy approach to their music. There was an ever so slight southern flavor to their sound. It was melodically driven and occasionally they would drift in a grittier direction. I think they would fall under the term “Freak Folk”. The lead singer, Joshua Tillman, got his freak on with what I would call an arrhythmic jangly”Junky” dance. I made that comment to Aaron. who was besides me. He agreed to that reference. I lingered and Aaron and pal set out for greener pastors.

I returned to the hub of refreshments at FYF Fest to secure a brew. I like to refer to this as liquid relaxation. I took my large cup of relaxation over to the tent and sat next a young man from San Diego, named Brice. He disparaged Hipsters at what appeared to me to be a Hipster rally. I suggested that he might want to have sex with Hipster girls, like I once did with Mod girls, when I was a young amorous Punk Rocker. He like the idea. He then recommended I should see the band Turbonegro. Funny, that was on the list of must sees. I agreed to his recommendation since it was already part of my plan.

Photo gallery after the jump

 

After bidding my adeus to my chums, I was at the main stage in no time at all to catch King Kahn and The Shrines. I thought I was at a freakishly forward looking Italian movie form the sixties. I was gazing on a funky brother with a goldish cape, navy stretch hot pants with a gold lame pyramid crotch patch, a faux tooth necklace and an outrageous Amazonian tribal wig, made of something besides hair, with a golden head band. Around him were seven other musicians. To his left was a three piece horn and keys section. To his right the bass and lead guitar. Behind King Kahn the drums were making it all Funky. Kind of James Brown Funky and kind of six, six, sixties! The sweet flavor of garage grunge and Ennio Morricone guitar swagger. It was weird, but not as weird as The Resident’s version of “Land Of A Thousand Dances”, but worthy on note, on a hot day in September. The horn sections sound was fat and gorgeous as they powered up the tunes. King Kahn scratchy soul rich vocals were front and center, while the drums laid into solid bedrock. The guitar danced around and on top of the chunks of rhythmic exchanges among the players. While King Kahn claim to fame is sticking his ass in Lindsey Lohan’s face. He’s more than a one face wonder! He delivered a entertaining show of retro inspired genre bending and blending that hooked the crowd for the whole show.

Once again, I refueled with liquid relaxation with my eyes having the vantage point of the main stage where Against Me soon would mount. I had been given a heads up by Bob that the lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, formerly Thomas James Gabel would performing this tour as a woman. Laura Jane was appropriately dress in a black tank top and leather mini with black tattered sheers and black scruffy Chuck Taylor’s. I pondered her transformation and what meaning it might have on her fans. But I didn’t ponder this very long. They are a nice four piece. A guitar driven alternative Rock band that favors influences like U2 and Blur. I was shooting in the press pit area during the performance of “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”. The crowd completely rallied for “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”. The pit was active, crowd surfing was rampant. Yeah, bodies churning and floating in uncontrolled approval with chanting and sing-a-long devotion. The place was going Topsy Turvy, bonkers and off the hook, while the dust cloud floated 10 feet above the crowd. “Sink, Florid, Sink” and “Walking Is Still Honest” got great fan response too. I observed all of this from the side once I was expelled from the press pit. I think there was something cathartic about this for Laura Jane and the fans that caused such a ruckus under the burning mid-day sun. It proved an excellent warm up for Dinosaur Jr. which I’ve been looking forward to seeing for years.

After another glass of liquid relaxation to fortify me for the tasks at hand.  I made more friends under the tent before I returned to the main stage. I ran into Kim Buresh and Ron Frank on the way. Kim had warned me a week before she’d be to busy with the Old 97’s to make the dusty FYF Fest. Ha, I teased her by recanting her words to her. We laughed! Then I circle round to the press pit for the ritual de lo habitual. This was my most relaxed entry and longest set up time before the band’s performance. I was bobbing in the center when Amy Darling caught my eye from the other side of the fence. We were both waiting for Dinosaur Jr. She had her camera in hand. She’s a fellow photographer and scenster who shoots Don Bolles’ Fancy Space People among others. Don Bolles, the drummer of the legendary Hardcore Punk band, The Germs. Amy and I chatted for a bit blowing off pre show tention. J Mascis and Lou Barlow were messing around on the stage in the most relaxed manner. J Mascis was taking pictures with his i-Phone and Lou, who was bare footed, shuffling about, waiting on the right moment after the roadies finished the tweaks and set up for Dinosaur Jr.’s performance. I turned to my left taking in the stage, low and behold, it was none other than Henry Rollins setting at the side behind the Marshalls. He was waiting for the band start just like the rest of us. Herny’s love of Miles Davis has had us connect a number of times over the years. But this was a marvelous surprise!

I noticed the snap to attention had had on the fans when Dinosaur Jr. were given the okay to play. Everyone on stage moved to their places. I noticed that Lou was going to play barefooted. Surely, that would be something that would have never happened during the more turbulent beer bottle throwing days of Punk Rock. I’m pretty sure he played with shoes on at Origami Records with the Missing Men a couple years back. Obviously, the fruits of a well organized concert added to his sense of safety. Nonetheless, I was stoked and ready to shoot, shoot, shoot! Dinosaur Jr. started things off with “Thumb”. This was a mid-tempo number to start out their show. Henry Rollins on the side. I was watching him and them. J Mascis and Lou Barlow seem to deliberately play with their hair in their faces. After all that was the cool thing to do in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Sure,  I did it and Kurt Cobain did it. But now it’s a little odd. It makes it hard to get facial expressions. Facila expression work best with eyes. I plugged on! All the while, I kept my eyes on Henry. You could tell he was working on something. Half way through “The Wagon” Henry ran to the center back of the stage, behind all the Marshall Amps, to pick up pin and paper. The man was possessed. He returned to the left side of the stage to start writing furiously. Wow! I’m getting to see Dinosaur Jr. and a rare opportunity to see Henry Rollins go into creative mode. Not in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought this would happen. I’m flipping out on that and I still have to shoot the band. On the third song all the photogs are asked to leave. Leave they did. Then as if on que Dinosaur Jr.’s posture and approach to performing completely changed. By the time they lit into “Out There” they were completely playing to the audience: their faces out from under the hair and looking up and out. I had considered this possibility while I was in the press pit but wasn’t sure having never seen them play before. It seemed they were trying not to give anyone in the press pit good photos. I hung close and to the side of the stage in case the winds of change blew and they did! So guess who was eagerly snapping away, capturing an engaged Dinosaur Jr. preforming to their fans, not the press. “Feel the Pain” got the joint a jumping! They whipped out a dirtier and considerably harder version of The Cures’ “Just Like Heaven”. They kept hammering away at the fans with “Freak Scene”, who were responding with great ferver. Then followed “Kracked”, “Sludgefeast” and “Gargoyle”. There was nothing but energy going out and then being returned song after song. It was a  good vibe!

Desaparecidos followed. There was no time for liquid relaxation. The fan were standing breast to breast. It was cooling off outside. Surely, it was hot for those so closely packed up to the stage. As previously did, I jumped in the press pit and hammered away for 3 songs. Once I exited, standing over on the left of the stage, I heard the influences or vocal stylings that echoed of Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine and some Clash vibes coming from singer Conor Oberst. Desaparecidos content was pretty political. Obviously, they are following in the foot steps of bands like Tijauna No or Manu Chao. Rock en español, as a genre, is far more political than the American version. The fans responded by knowing the lyrics and singing along. Near the end they finished off with The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs”. I wasn’t at all surprised given what I’d been hearing. It was a solid show I enjoyed.

There was a rest period built into my day. I needed a little R&R and a phone recharge. I rested in the press area, I finally found after of hours of being there. My feet were sore and my back strained from caring a camera for 6 hours.  I sat there listening gossip and braging of others about me. Setting there I was surprised out of nowhere by a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Karina Torrico popped up from behind to say hello. She was on her way to to see The Faint. She was radiant and that lifted my spirits to see her looking well and beautiful. When we finished I was near time for me to explore Turbonegro.

I walked just as Turbonegro squared in on the stage. They were a manic bunch of fancy pants. Immediately, it reminded me of what it must have been like to drop in to an early Adam And The Ants gig. While Turbonegro doesn’t have half naked doms and bondage re-enactment’s as part of their stage antics, they do share their “Willies” on their proverbial sleeve, as well as, being slavishly devoted to their looks and their appearance. Steam Punk it seems is their adopted look. But each member had a theme to their look, like the Village People, but in this case they were riffing on gritty or high Victorian fashion. I was amused by it and thought were all snappy dressers. I’m a stylist and so is Karina. Turbonegro played well, fashion wise, for her and my run in just before this gig. It pulled in the styling theme we share. So I was all eye balls and ears. Their sound was a blend of Punk and Metal. They mentioned the Offspring in their set. So imagine something like The Offspring, with gritty vocals, a harder, faster, angrier sound and far more sexed up than the Offspring! They love their fans. In fact, they offered to have sex with each and everyone of them. Thankfully, I was farther back from the crowd at that moment. So I didn’t consider it an offer to me. They keep the energy hot and fierce throughout the set. Their fans were with them every step of the way. Some fans wore thematic make up resembling the members of the band for a show of solidarity. It was rockus, sweaty and dirty fun! As if on que, I watched from afar a number of security and the cops were chasing two young hoodlums. This happened in-between me and the band as I was watching the performance. In a way it was a poetic summation to Turbonegro’s arresting performance. I really couldn’t think of a more fitting ending to the evening with flamboyant thuggery from Turbonegro theatrical stage antics and general mayhem. The ending of their set against two young thugs getting detained and arrested was a serendipitous coincidence. It was a strange and fitting end: ironic, funny, wrong and weird. It was a good day at FYF Fest.

 

Billy Bennight

About Billy Bennight

Billy Bennight is a writer, photographer and wardrobe stylist with expertise and years of experience in these disciplines. His musical youth started as a Punk Rocker and has expanded into exploring many genres of music, with an keen interest in art, fashion, photography and writing. He shoots celebrity events and red carpets for PR Photos, Photoshot and The Photo Access/Corbis. His images have been published in Vanity Fair, People Magazine and The Los Angeles Times. He's very engaged in life. You can follow him on his Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/billybennightartist
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